Today, Stone and I walked down to the school playground with Snowflake to get exercise, fresh air and time to write together. Right now, on this late winter day, she is 8 years old and in the third grade, and we are sitting on a bench. The mountains are lightly dusted with snow, and hawks are flying overhead. There’s still a chill to the air. Winter lingers on. Snowflake is wearing her “Chill Out” puppy raingear and digging in the sand like it’s a doggie biscuit burial ground.

I’m having an extra day with Stone because both of us are tired of rushing. We both resist rushing mightily. It’s not in our nature to rise and shine. No, we are not morning people. In this we are the same, though I rather suspect she will be a better-organized person than me. Somedays I think I am giving her the single mom equivalent of DWI-crash movies, you know, the kind they show at speeding school when you get a ticket and you want to get it knocked off your record. So they show you, over and over again, footage of crushed cars. The single mom version gets played daily at our house, as in, “Don’t live at this speed. Don’t be this impaired by sleep deprivation and extreme-sport multitasking or you will end up bloody and mangled in a crush of metal.”

I’m giving her a day-by-day frame-by-frame living documentary of what it’s like to be a single mom. It could be the best marriage insurance you could buy. Just trying to look on the bright side. Perhaps she and her twin brother, Light, will be the “’til death do us part” kind.

“I want to go swing, Mama,” Stone says, zipping up her blue velour hoodie. Her green eyes sparkle. There is a pensiveness underneath. She’s sitting in the swing with Snowflake in her lap. I hear the train in the distance, howling. A flutter of wings as a flock of sparrows rises from the roof. The clang of the chain on the pole. “It’s starting to rain, Mama.”